You Have to Start Somewhere

For fifteen years, I dragged myself out of bed and put all my good thinking to use in the workplace advancing other people’s missions.  Some I cared about deeply, others I could take or leave. I worked at five different places and eventually found myself in an executive position in spite of my best efforts to keep my head down and do a good job.

For the last five years or so, about the same time I started having kids, when I wasn’t in the office working, I was thinking about/texting about/emailing about/having phone calls about…working. I had my head down so far in my job, I pinched a nerve in my neck. Seriously. To say nothing of this phantom rash on my face, killer migraines, a hollow leg, an inappropriate dependency on chocolate chips, a very loud relationship with my kids (if I even noticed them), a marriage thriving like a Russian tundra, and a propensity to cry about everything, especially how much I cried about everything.

In September 2014, I was celebrating my 38th birthday at the beach with my family. Work stress was eating me alive. My Crohn’s disease was agitated and my body hurt all over. In an effort to chill out, I went to a drop-in yoga class at the studio across the street from where we were staying  and I met this very calm and beautiful playwright from L.A. After ten minutes of trying to find something annoying about her during some pretty benign small talk, she turned to me and said, “You seem really burnt out. Do you think you’re an artist trapped in a desk job?” Wait, what?…You got from there-to-there in ten effing minutes? Had I complained like a broken record? Did my face show it? Did my body show it? For a split second, I saw myself from the outside: Check, check, check. She asked if I’d ever read The Artist’s Way. “Sort of,” I told her, sheepishly. “I started it in 2002 and keep meaning to finish it.” Typical.

A few days later, my mom got sick on the trip and ended up in the hospital. It had been a rough summer. A few people I loved were struggling with some big problems. Someone else I loved had just died. Work was so not working. I had been in and out of the office all summer long addressing some very big things. I was struggling to keep up — on deadlines and appearances. As usual, when people can’t see the problems you are facing, they assume you are the problem. I was lonelier than I’ve ever been. I was sad. And both my head and my heart were giving up the fight.

In the next yoga class, there I was, lying flat on my back in savasana about to doze off (yes, I am the person that snores in yoga class) and suddenly, for just a second, I so plainly saw what mattered and what didn’t.

This #textgram brought to me by @bld177.

A photo posted by Brooke B. (@borkdc) on

It took me a while to figure out what to do with that nudge from my intuition but within a month, I officially leaned out of my job with one goal: To show up for the rest of my life.

So here I am. Six months later. Spending my days at home with a child, working part-time, and trying to more closely align my big ideas with big actions. And the sparks are flying.

At any given moment, I am daydreaming about taking on crazy exciting things like:

  • Moving to the country and living in an Airstream
  • Opening a smokehouse called “Little Mommy’s Grill Town”
  • Bringing my three awesome inventions to life
  • Crafting my next manifesto (Whoa, do I have a lot of topics I get red in the face about.)
  • Phasing in yet another hardcore elimination diet to tackle my Crohn’s disease
  • Becoming a minimalist
  • Finally getting in shape
  • Reading pertinent works … if I can find the time
  • No! Writing pertinent works…if I can find the time
  • Spending a year in Paris, pour de vrai!
  • Cultivating deep, lasting and compassionate friendships
  • Opening my mail more than once a month
  • Leaning into a deeper and more peaceful marriage that is at once sweet and steamy
  • Dipping a toe in the water on what comes most naturally to me: advice and coaching. Or, at the very least, sharing the choice advice I only give my friends.

I don’t know what will happen next. There is no workplan, no budget, no SMART goal to measure performance.

I am completely out of my element. I’m starting to think that is the point.

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1 Comment

  • Reply LeAnne September 24, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Brooke – I love this post. I worked with you for two years and never knew what a clever writer you are. I think you’re very much IN your element. Keep the insights coming.

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